adnexa

OK, yes, this word caught my attention when it crossed my eyes in no small part because of the x. (I’ve since uncrossed my eyes. Also undotted my tease.) You can just picture the effect of an unexpected word on the ordinary sleepy eye: sleepy eye e sees word, blinks for a moment x, then opens wide a. If it’s a really good word, the hairs on your head and neck might even stand up d. Safe to say, though, that your fingernail on your fingertip n won’t extend to be a claw, unless you’re a cat.

Adnexa seems like it could be a name for a girl, doesn’t it? Or perhaps for a consulting company or advertising broker. Or a model of car. At the very least it seems to me to have an air of almost studied sexiness, the sort that comes with wavy hair, long eyelashes, painted nails…

On the other hand (the one without the painted nails, I guess), the sound of it, I must admit, also makes me think of sinus congestion. It’s the /dn/, for sure, but amplified by the sticky-throat and harder-swallow sound of /ks/ at the x. That sense is a sort of awkward appendix to the rest of the word.

Hm, well, perhaps appendix isn’t the right word, quite. In literature, an appendix is something extrinsic but useful, but in the body an appendix is simply vestigial and without apparent function. And anything that bears on the taste of a word has a function – or should I say an effect. Even the off tastes come in subtly.

So what is the word for those parts of the body that are peripheral to an organ but also have functions? Like the eyelids on an eye – and the eyebrows, tear ducts, et cetera? The hair growing on your skin, and even the muscles that horripilate (make it stand on end)? Fingernails too? Oh, I know. It’s from Latin ad “to” plus nectere “tie, bind”. Is it annex? No, though annex also comes from that. Nope, the word I want is… oh, yes, you guessed it… (I guess I am dotting my tease after all…) It’s adnexa, noun, plural.

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